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Holladay Journal

May Preservation Month captures the essence of Holladay’s historic buildings

Jun 04, 2024 10:45AM ● By Collette Hayes

Plein air and Impressionist painter Anne Marie Osborn, known for her portraits of 240 fallen soldiers, completed paintings of the Harold Burton home and Burton Lumber in the heart of Holladay. (Collette Hayes/City Journals)

For historians, artists and community members passionate about art and history, the historic Holladay City Hall auditorium was a fitting backdrop for two engaging events during Holladay Preservation Month. The Kathy Murphy Historic Holladay Invitational, a showcase of plein air art capturing the essence of Holladay's historic buildings, and the Holladay Historical Commission Guest Lecture Series, titled "The Grand Estates of Holladay," delved into the rich history, opulent estates, and foundational businesses that have shaped the heritage of the Holladay community.

“Several months ago, Kathy Murphy and I envisioned sending local plein air artists out into the city of Holladay to create paintings of Holladay’s historic homes,” Historical Commission member Kim Duffy said. “Sadly, Kathy passed away before this idea came to fruition. The Arts and Culture Director Megan Attermann and past Holladay Arts Council member Beckie Rock and I met and decided to go forward with the project in honor of Kathy.”

The event was evidence of the strong partnership and shared vision between the Holladay Arts Council and the Holladay Historical Commission. Together, they brought to life the work of a diverse group of plein air artists across the Salt Lake Valley. The artists' talent and collective dedication to preserving the structures' historical significance were showcased during a memorable gallery exhibition that evening. 

“Seeing the Historical Commission and the Arts Council collaborate was a thrill,” Attermann said. “Both groups contributed in an irreplaceable way to making the night a beautiful experience for our community. The City owes so much to our faithful volunteers. We are lucky to have such engaged people with such a burning desire to positively contribute to our community.” 

Fourteen dedicated artists set up their easels and snapped open their paintboxes in various locations across Holladay throughout April. Their mission was clear: to capture the essence of the town’s historic buildings on canvas, preserving their beauty for future generations. 

The evening began with a vocal performance by Anna Roelofs with accompanist Jean Lobrot. Roelofs is a senior at the University of Utah studying vocal performance and has received many vocal performance awards.

Thirty-five pieces were displayed during the Kathy Murphy Historic Holladay Invitational event, including previously completed works of historic homes by five additional artists.

Plein air and Impressionist painter Anne Marie Osborn, known for her portraits of 240 fallen soldiers, completed paintings of the Harold Burton home and Burton Lumber in the heart of Holladay.

According to Historical Commission Director Sandy Meadows, Burton Lumber has been in operation since 1911 and is now in its fifth generation. It started on State Street, using a wagon and horse that initially belonged to the Salt Lake Fire Department. Burton acquired the Holladay yard from Olympus Lumber and Hardware in 1966.

Oil and acrylic artist Steve Stauffer, whose work appears in five galleries nationwide, completed six paintings, including an oil on linen of Leslie’s Bakery.

Alex and Betty Leslie immigrated to the U.S. from Scotland in 1948. The couple worked for Clawson Bakery in Salt Lake City for 25 years. Leslie’s son Bill and their daughter-in-law Kim decided to open their bakery. Leslie’s French Pastries in Holladay was founded in 1975.

Artist Joan Ellsworth is a native Utahn. Her current portfolio consists of landscapes and still-life objects in oil. She completed two paintings in oil of the Cottages at Knudsen’s Corner, known as the “Honeymoon House.” The cottages were built in 1882 and are located next to The Cotton Bottom, 2820 E. 6200 South.

According to former Salt Lake Tribune journalist Jack Goodman, the larger building is a 552-square-foot cottage made originally from adobe and later clad in wood siding. Rasmus Christian Knudsen gave the house to his son Frederic and his wife Mary Cahoon as a wedding present, affectionately referring to it as the “Honeymoon Cottage.”

Former Director of Preservation Utah David Amott took the stage following the gallery event to present a historical lecture on feature properties belonging to the Walker, Bamberger and Dreyfous families. The families built palatial villas for pleasure and entertainment, rustic versions of what existed along South Temple. These beautiful Holladay villas were known for their pools, piazzas and unique architecture.

According to Amott, many chose Holladay as a place to vacation due to the tradition the Walker family had started. The Walker’s grand villa, Glenwood, was built in Holladay in 1895.  Another reason for selecting Holladay to construct a villa was the location next to the mountains, rivers, streams and the natural canopy of trees that made life pleasant in an age when air conditioning did not exist. 

Jacob and Bertha Bamberger built a beautiful Spanish Revival-style home in Holladay, known for its simulated fox hunts and for holding the most extravagant parties.

Jules Dreyfous, a conservationist and owner of the Salt Lake City department store, The Paris, built a Creole plantation-style home known as Happiness Farm. The Dreyfous family held a lavish party for all Paris employees every year. 

“The Kathy Murphy Historic Holladay Exhibit, along with the Speaker Series lecture with David Amott, was a beautiful tribute to one of the City's great volunteers,” Attermann said. “Kathy Murphy left us too soon, but her wonderful idea was very much alive that night. The music, art, lecture—all of it was a beautiful representation of this true Renaissance woman.” 

To find a home, building, business or structure to tour historic Holladay, visit or visit the QR code on the signs in front of historic structures posted throughout Holladay City. λ